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Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Lockout: Management Shuts West Coast Ports Four More Days
By News Release @ 8:54 PM :: 4061 Views :: Jones Act, Labor

Message to customers from Jones Stevedoring Co:

The PMA Board of Directors has made the decision that, with the exception of military, cruise, and Jones Act vessels, there will be no vessel operations Thursday, 2/12/2015, Saturday, 2/14/2025, Sunday, 2/15/2015, and Monday, 2/16/2015, on all shifts in all PMA ports for all PMA member vessels. 

(Translation: Hawaii-bound boats will still be loaded.)

PBN: 49% of Hawaii Businesses Report Shipment Delays

PBN: Delays caused by West Coast ports a mixed bag, Hawaii groceries say

ILWU: "There could be a delay on arrivals of vessels and that's the concern that we should have here in Hawaii

West Coast Ports to Stop All Vessel Operations for Four Days – Hawaii Senator files resolution for White House intervention

News Release from Office of Sen Sam Slom, February 11, 2015

HONOLULU—Today, the Pacific Maritime Association announced it will suspend operations at West Coast ports on four of the next five days. 

Senator Sam Slom says, "In light of PMA suspending operations on the West Coast ports, I have today filed a bipartisan Senate resolution, with the support of seven Democratic colleagues, to urge the President of the United States to use his power under the Taft-Hartley Act to normalize operations on the West Coast ports for a cooling off period and to push the ILWU and PMA back to the negotiating table.  Regardless of any exemption for Jones Act ships, I believe that Hawaii will still be affected because it's unrealistic to assume that the terminal operators will call in their workers, that the ILWU will show up to work, and if they do, whether they will show up in sufficient numbers to load and unload the Jones Act ships.  Additionally, the question needs to be asked whether they'll even be able to work on Jones Act ships because of the congestion and gridlock on West Coast ports.  In Hawaii, we are currently experiencing sporadic shortages and slow delivery of merchandise under the slowdown conditions, and with a complete stoppage for more than 95% of the cargo through the West Coast, there will inevitably be further consequences for Hawaii."

According to an email from the Jones Stevedoring Company, PMA carved out an exception for government, cruise and Jones Act ships in its order stopping all vessel operations for Thursday February 12, and Saturday February 14 through Monday February 16.  PMA would have had to pay premium weekend and holiday wage rates to the longshore workers, clerks and foremen because of the weekend and because Thursday and Monday are holidays.

Last week, PMA put a comprehensive contract offer on the table.  According to PMA spokesman Wade Gates, the ILWU responded to the offer with unreasonable demands, including wanting to fire arbitrators that rule against them[1] as well as continued slowdown in work productivity that first led to the congestion at the ports.  "The ILWU responded with demands they knew we could not meet," said Gates in a statement.  "What they're doing amounts to a strike with pay, and we will reduce the extent to which we pay premium rates for such a strike.[2]"

PDF: Senate Resolution 5

  *   *   *   *   *

ILWU Slowdowns Lead to Temporary Suspension of Vessel Operations on Four Weekend, Holiday Dates

Yard, Gate and Rail Operations Will Continue on “Premium Pay” Work Dates

News Release from PMA

SAN FRANCISCO (Feb. 11, 2015) – In light of ongoing and costly ILWU slowdowns, PMA members will temporarily suspend premium-pay weekend and holiday vessel operations on four upcoming dates, while yard, gate and rail operations will continue at terminal operators’ discretion. In Southern California, terminal operators will expand daytime vessel operations on non-holiday weekdays.

Weekend and holiday pay rates command a premium of at least 50% of the basic longshore wage rate. As a result, working hours on those days would be paid at between $54 and $75 per hour for longshore workers and clerks, and between $77 and $92 per hour for foremen. PMA members have concluded that they will not conduct vessel operations on those dates, paying full shifts of ILWU workers such high rates for severely diminished productivity while the backlog of cargo at West Coast ports grows.

“Last week, PMA made a comprehensive contract offer designed to bring these talks to conclusion,” said PMA spokesman Wade Gates. “The ILWU responded with demands they knew we could not meet, and continued slowdowns that will soon bring West Coast ports to gridlock. What they’re doing amounts to a strike with pay, and we will reduce the extent to which we pay premium rates for such a strike.”

While the ILWU has claimed that the parties are “this close,” they continue to push demands that would cripple the West Coast waterfront. In particular, the Union is demanding the right to fire any arbitrator who rules against them at the end of each contract period, even though those arbitrators are the referees who keep West Coast ports operating smoothly. During the 2008 – 2014 contract period, the four area arbitrators found the ILWU guilty of more than 200 slowdowns or work stoppages.

“The ILWU’s current slowdowns, now in their fourth month, show the very reason that we need a healthy arbitration system in place,” Gates said. “It is essential to be able to prevent the crippling slowdowns that are impacting workers and businesses across the nation.”

The four dates affected by the suspension of vessel operations are Thursday, 2/12 (Lincoln’s Birthday); Saturday, 2/14; Sunday, 2/15; and Monday, 2/16 (Washington’s Birthday).  Again, yard, gate and rail operations will continue.

Last week, after nine months of contract talks, PMA last week made a comprehensive contract offer that would raise ILWU wages by 14 percent over five-years, on top of current average full-time wages of $147,000 per year. It would maintain fully employer-paid health care, worth $35,000 per year, and increase the ILWU pension to as much as $88,800 per year. The pay guarantee program would ensure that longshore workers are paid for 40 hours per week, even if no work is available, and the ILWU would have jurisdiction over the maintenance and repair of truck chassis.

# # #

ILWU news release: Port employers cancel talks and idle vessels

Union calls on employers to work vessels, deliver cargo & resume talks

News Release from ILWU

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (FEBRUARY 11, 2011) — Today, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), a consortium of international corporations, informed the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) that ships will not be worked at West Coast Ports four of the next five days.

This action marks the second time in less than a week that employers have idled vessels.

The same group of predominantly foreign-owned companies also cancelled a negotiating session scheduled today for 1pm with the ILWU’s Negotiating Committee. The employers have not made themselves available to negotiate since Friday of last week.

“This is an effort by the employers to put economic pressure on our members and to gain leverage in contract talks,” said ILWU President Robert McEllrath. “The Union is standing by ready to negotiate, as we have been for the past several days.”

At the same time that PMA announced this action and cancelled today’s negotiations, PMA’s public relations firm issued a press release that grossly mischaracterizes the ILWU’s current bargaining position.

“It seems to us that the employers are trying to sabotage negotiations,” said McEllrath. “They are not just hurting workers, families and communities,” he said, “what our employers are doing is bad for the industry and the US economy.”

Facts:

  • The cessation of vessel operations was initiated by employers, and is NOT a strike by workers.
  • Longshore workers earn excellent benefits and good hourly wages ranging from $26-$41 per hour. Most are unable to work a full 2000 hours in a normal work year. The typical pay for an experienced longshore worker is $83,000. Longshore work is extremely hazardous, with fatality rates exceeding those of police and firefighters.

# # #

VIDEO: ILWU President Robert McEllrath’s message to the membership

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